November 15 Follow Up to Residential Students
FOLLOW UP: MOLD AND MILDEW PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
November 15, 2021
As a follow up to our email on October 16, we want to share the findings from the mold assessment undertaken by the University through an outside firm with expertise in environmental services. Given that the new normal in our region is warm and humid conditions well into the fall, we want to make sure we are continuing to be as proactive as possible in addressing mold and mildew prevention, response and community education.
Criterion Laboratories, Inc, conducted visual inspections for water damage and fungal growth across 16 residence halls on Main Campus, South Campus and St. Mary’s, covering 194 residence hall rooms as well as restrooms/shower rooms and common areas.
The inspection found no systemic issues or issues that would be unusual for properly maintained buildings. It did, however, highlight some areas for improvement as well as the importance of continuing to address individual HVAC issues on an as-needed basis along with other preventative measures.
Below is information on how we are addressing the action items recommended in the inspection findings.
The inspection flagged drainage issues outside of Katharine Hall and St. Monica Hall that could cause future problems. Villanova’s Grounds team is currently investigating options to redirect rainwater away from the buildings, which is especially important during periods of significant precipitation. Since water was not found to be entering the buildings, the plan is that this work will be undertaken over the summer when there are fewer students on campus.
All buildings on campus are monitored for maintenance and building envelope (exterior walls, etc.) issues. Groundwater intrusion within the basement and mechanical space of Corr Hall is being investigated and corrected. Because of the location, it has not caused moisture issues within students’ rooms in Corr.
Addressing Laundry Rooms
The inspection noted some immediate needs to be addressed in Sheehan Hall as well as some considerations to improve laundry spaces throughout campus.
Short-term cleaning/remediation – A third-party environmental services firm has already cleaned and remediated any mold growth in laundry facilities in both Sheehan and Sullivan Halls, including the growth identified within the plenum space (between the ceiling tiles and ceiling) of the Sheehan Hall basement laundry facilities.
Long-term planning – Villanova will be undertaking a targeted assessment of all laundry rooms in residence halls for infrastructure improvements (for example, how to more efficiently vent the hot and humid air of a laundry facility outside). While the cleanliness of laundry rooms is important to address, due to the overall ventilation design of residence hall buildings, we can be confident it is not causing air quality issues within students’ rooms or the overall buildings. This assessment will be ongoing through the remainder of the semester with the possibility of initial projects starting over the Christmas break, depending on what is determined to be required.
Maintaining Individual HVAC Units
Any HVAC units found to have suspected mold growth or conditions favorable to mold growth, like dust or incorrect thermostat settings, have been addressed.
Prioritizing Preventative Measures
Villanova will continue to follow the preventative measures highlighted in the inspection findings:
- Any reports of suspected mold, mildew or moisture infiltration will continue to be addressed quickly and thoroughly.
- Windows will continue to be checked during the summer as rooms are prepared for the beginning of a new academic year and seals will be replaced as necessary.
- Roof drains will continue to be inspected each fall and spring as well as before forecasted major precipitation events.
- Community education efforts will be increased. Stickers with specific unit operating information will be added to all HVAC units in residence hall rooms to allow for immediate access to that information. Mold and mildew prevention information will be shared on an ongoing basis as part of routine communications with residential students.
The health and safety of students is Villanova’s highest priority. If you have an issue with your room, wish to request a moisture assessment or would like an assessment for peace of mind, please submit a work order by going through the Residence Life or Facilities Management websites. It is important to utilize our work order system as it allows us to track and monitor requests to ensure a timely response and satisfactory resolution.
In this season of gratitude, we want to thank everyone for their patience as we work through these issues together.
Kathleen J. Byrnes, JD
Vice President for Student Life
Robert H. Morro, PE
Vice President for Facilities Management